Saturday 26 August 2017 Pitlochry

26 Aug 2017
Atholl Palace Hotel, Pitlochry
79.4km, 16.7, +833
1000 – 1729

Continued on National cycle route 7 for a warm and generally easy day riding, with the route in good shape most of the day. 

The path out of Strathyre is newly paved and is easy riding. Roy Roy is the local attraction but we didn’t take the detour. We are on a lot of railway beds this trip, and today we started out on a local one with a beautiful bridge with a recent repair in honour of a local cyclist.

Then a steep climb (ie pushing our bikes) high up the hill to meet an old railway right of way, which slopes gradually up and through the pass, from Loch Earn to Killin. Somehow being above it all is particularly satisfying, and today with the easy route uphill and terrific views over Loch Earn and the valley, it was a cyclist’s dream. The only route complaint was that it was a tricky single track in some spots down to Killin.

We stopped for photos at Killin (actually we stop for photos all day, it’s so spectacular around here), then continued on the road on south side of Loch Tay, which was hilly but good surface.

Stopped at the Crannog centre by Kenmore, wooden houses used on the Loch up until the 1600s. Very quick and flat ride down the River Tay, then steep hills on final kms to Pitlochry.


Friday 25 August 2017 Strathyre Scotland

25 August 2017
Munro Inn, Strathyre, Scotland
68.6 km, 14kph, +912m
1015 – 1700

Sustrans route all day except for a minor shortcut around Callander.

I took a moment to chit chat to one of the famous guests at the hotel door, letting him know he has plenty of Canadian fans.

We started out through Balloch Castle park, climbing up and out of the town, with views back down to Loch Lomond, down country roads, in the morning mist.

As we went over Endrick Water, I saw something in the corner of my eye, and thought of the closing of the Lord of the Rings, where Frodo is lost in conversation with Gandalf. Sometimes if you look carefully you might see them in the corner of the field. Crossing the bridge, the sign said “The Shire”. A few moments later, “Watch for Hobbits.” I knew I was in the right place.

Down through the park-serving town of Drymen, then up our first 200m hill, quite pretty, narrow route, with walkers and little traffic. Not too hard to climb when you have the road to yourself. Soup at Aberfoyle, and then on to our second big climb, up 300m on the track through the park.

It was stunning – starting with the childrens activities at the start, then a massive ropes and climbing course in the trees. The woods were ringing with the sounds of people enjoying the forest, the challenge and the day. The Brits know how to use their parks – I was very impressed.

Then way up into the spectacular heathered hills and forest, perfect with flowers, moss, heather, and not much debris, which is fuelling the fires in BC this season. Water everywhere – little creeks pouring down the mountain, major waterfall, and light rain. We climbed up and over the forest road, no sign of other cyclists, and a few walkers. At Loch Drunkie, the oaks leaned over the water, campers camped and we cycled.

Then down the rough path along Loch Venachar, not very easy and we were relieved when it turned into pavement about half way along. At the point, by the way, there is an arboretum, planted a century ago, with massive trees from around the world.

We took the paved path along Loch Lubnaig, very pretty until the mist turned to driving rain, the path turned into a difficult track, and choosing between shelter and being utterly drenched, we finally arrived in the tiny town of Strathyre and the Munro Inn, from which we are not budging.

Thursday 24 August 2017 Balloch Scotland

Thurs 24 August 2017
Cameron House Hotel, Balloch, Loch Lomond
37.2 km, 16kph, +70m
1100 – 1400

This was to be a rest day so we rested by taking a short flat three-part ride to Balloch. Part one, rail beds down the Clyde; part 2, along the historic Forth to Clyde canal, and part 3, along the fast flowing and brimming full River Leven.

Now happily ensconced at Cameron House, where we plan to spend the afternoon doing exactly nothing.

Wednesday 23 August 2017 Glasgow Scotland 

Weds 23 Aug 2017
Grand Central Hotel, Glasgow
0945 – 1700, 68.8km, 17.4kph, +454m

Our room in the pub was windowless, I wondered if it was actually legal and went to sleep thinking hard about the lack of fire exit… The staff were extremely friendly so not all bad.

Because of our detour to Biggar last night, today was a road day for most of the day.

We started with a visit to the UNESCO World Heritage Site at New Lanark, site of cotton mills built to harness the new technology of water power from the falls on the Clyde River.

The owners’ philosophy of building a community which educated children and cared for workers’ welfare was revolutionary at the time.

The ride continued in fairly heavy traffic along the Clyde Valley, the eventually onto the very pretty bike route into Glasgow, much of it on rail beds and all paved and through quiet areas.

Our hotel is attached to the historic railway station which for some reason pleases both of us.

Tuesday 22 August 2017 Biggar Scotland

Tues 22 Aug 2017
Elphinstone Inn, Biggar
98.1 km, 20.4 kph, +680
1015 – 1700 hrs

Another warm and beautiful day cycling. We’ve been taken by surprise though at the lack of accommodation. We couldn’t find 2 nights this week in Glasgow, and tonight had to come an extra 18 kms to Biggar to get a room.

So we spent a romantic night in Gretna booking accommodation for next week.

Route today was the sustrans/Natl Cycle Network route except for out of Gretna. All on road, and much quicker than usual on this trip. From Gretna, we went up the valley which is a major corridor, with motorway, train, our road, Clyde wind farms, and river. Also wildflowers packing the sides of roads, it was a beautiful and quick ride. Down the other side into valley of Clyde, and on to Biggar.

There’s very little accommodation in this area at this time of year. Hence our detour to the not so big town of Biggar. Quick walk around town and dinner in our pub.

Monday 21 August 2017 Gretna Green Scotland

21 August 2017 Hotel Gretna Hall (“The Original Marriage House”)
Gretna Green Scotland
58.6 km, 18kph, +356

Excellent day cycling today, following the sustrans route most of the day through easy country roads, warm temperatures and wind at our backs. The roller coasters on one stretch of road added drama to what was a straightforward ride.

The ride into Carlisle was the best bike route we’ve seen in the UK going into a town. Interesting to see the floodgates along the route.

We stopped to be tourists at Carlisle Castle, and read about 1000 yrs of intense relationship between the English and the Scottish.

After Carlisle, we skipped the long route suggested by sustrans and came straight across the causeway on the road next to the motorway.

Now we’re learning the history of marriage, along with bus loads of tourists and wedding parties.

Sunday 20 August 2017 Penrith Cumbria

20 August 2017
George Hotel, Penrith
43km, 16.6kph, +577m
1030 – 1530

Short day of cycling today, starting with the 400m hill on Shap Road over Shap Fell. It was a tough climb, tackled by many cyclists, most on road bikes and moving quite a bit more quickly than us.

We took a tourist break at Lowther Castle, and into Penrith early, so we can have a lovely afternoon date at the laundrette.

If you walk around a locked castle following teenage boys with firecrackers, you’ll find their special entrance and your way in. Then you can view Penrith Castle (second castle of the day, last lived in about 600 yrs ago) to your heart’s content. Richard III lived here as the warden of Cumbria, some time ago.